“Don’t you think you should get a little fresh air and maybe some exercise?” – Marge Simpson
“Yeah, but what are you gonna do?” – Bart Simpson
In the early days, when the show routinely came in for social criticism from cranky old people, the writers liked to use Marge as a way to shoot back. The most famous example of this was “Marge’s” letter to then First Lady Barbara Bush, but they often worked it into episodes as well.
The quote above comes right after Marge asks Bart how many hours of TV he watches per day, and he casually replies “Six. Seven if there’s something good on“. That’s the show heaping scorn on brow-furrowing magazine articles and solemn pieces on 60 Minutes and the like about how television is terrible. It then really drives the point home:
“Marge, TV gives so much and asks so little. It’s a boy’s best friend.” – Homer Simpson
“That’s the problem. Even as we speak, millions of children are staring at the TV instead of getting some much needed exercise. Those children’s parents should be ashamed of themselves.” – Marge Simpson
This is The Simpsons being meta before that was even a term people used. Marge is parroting all the criticisms, while Homer is listing the simple reasons those critics will always be ignored. The whole thing ends with Homer asking Marge to apologize to the television after it gives Bart the idea to enroll in karate class.
Despite being on teevee, The Simpsons is perfectly happy to agree that television is terrible for people. It just isn’t going to pretend to care. What it is going to do is make fun of people who do care by showing how utterly ineffective all their shame throwing is. The joke, as with so many of their best, is on all of us.